Sunday, February 2, 2020

Presentation of the Lord

Joseph and Mary take Jesus to the Temple to present him to the Lord. In Exodus, God claims the first born as his own and then “returns” the child to the parents after an offering is made.

Each generation is to remember how God led our ancestors out of slavery, striking down Egypt’s first born while sparing and protecting the first born of Israel.

Each of us is to lay hold of the hope revealed by God, who claims each of us as firstborn, spares and protects, and draws us from slavery to freedom.

Jesus is the fulfillment of Israel’s hopes, personified in the elder Simeon, who spent his life yearning for God.  Now he sees as, at last, the light begins to draw Gentiles, all people into the new Israel.

Here is another Epiphany, another revelation of the Presence among us of the Christ, of the burning, all-consuming love of God, who brings light to those in darkness.

Like many of our own elders, the faith of Simeon deepened with the years, into serenity, integrity, a sense of Providence. Wise elders have made peace with the past and live each day with calm hope.

They trust the One who created them and brought them thus far to lead them through whatever life still holds—to lead them through dying to new life. Miguel Unamuno:

The living God, the human God, is reached, not by the way of reason, but by the way of love and of suffering. It is not possible to know him in order that afterwards we may love him; we must begin by loving him, longing for him, hungering for him, before knowing him.

As Erikson said: “Healthy children will not fear life if their elders have integrity enough not to fear death.”

Following where he leads, allowing our lives to be shaped by him.  This is the witness of Simeon, Mary and Joseph, our mothers and fathers in faith.

The Lord whom we seek suddenly comes to his Temple a mute infant in the arms of two poor parents. He comes out of compassion and humility beyond description.

He comes needing our nurture, calling each of us with him to an uncertain future where there will be wounds.

Soon we will light our candles again, to welcome and to acclaim Christ who suddenly comes to this Temple in the Eucharist.

One Light shines upon each of us, illuminating each face. We pass on the light of Christ to others. We are to be the light of Christ in the lives of others.

Others have carried the light to us. We are among a sea candles that stretches back to light the face of Christ and stretches forward to greet the dawn of that new and eternal day when we will use candles no more.

I will close with what we say to newly baptized adults:

Receive the light of Christ. You have been enlightened by Christ. Walk always as children of the light and keep the flame of faith alive in your hearts.  And when the Lord comes, may you go out to meet him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.

May it be so.

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